Former UC Davis distance runners Justin Hurd and Mark Lonac each took home individual championships at the second annual XTERRA Winter World Championships this weekend. Both live in Fort Collins, Colo. and were members of the cross country and track and field teams while at UC Davis.
Hurd won the Snowboard Dash-For-Cash race. He also took seventh in the main bike-snowshoe-run-ski event.
Lonac dominated the 10K snowshoe competition, a feat made more impressive considering he had never snowshoed competitively before.
“It was a challenge given that it makes your stride kind of awkward,” Lonac said. “You kick a bunch of snow onto your head and back and it’s really cold.“
Since leaving UC Davis, Lonac has flourished as a distance runner, most recently debuting in the marathon at Sacramento’s California International Marathon. There he ran a 2:28:02, taking 16th overall. He was the 11th American to finish, beating U.S. Olympian Gabriel Jennings in the process.
This fitness showed through as Lonac’s time of 40:08 was nearly two full minutes ahead of the runner-up.
“The second place guy was only about 30 seconds behind me at the half,” Lonac said. “My shins were throbbing and I was getting tired and it was way uphill on the way back, so I was worried about him. But with about 10 minutes to go I looked back and he was nowhere to be seen, and I knew I had it won.
“The home straight was a pretty solid uphill push, and since I knew I had it won and was really tired I wanted to just walk it in. But then I thought that would be pretty lame for the crowd to watch, so I ran it in.“
Now a professional triathlete, Hurd is still No. 3 on the Aggies‘ all-time list for the steeplechase. He holds the world record for the reverse steeplechase, which he set in 2004.
Hurd’s first event was the Snowboard Dash-for-Cash race on Saturday, in which he took home $500 for the win. The race involved having to boot pack up climbs in addition to racing the descents.
Just 23 hours later, Hurd competed in the main event, which was composed of a 10K mountain bike, 5K snowshoe, 5K run and 8k ski mountaineering. Hurd finished seventh in 2:24:22.
“Hurd is a beast,” Lonac said. “He’s had a combination of head colds, bronchitis and the flu continuously for the past month, so to go out there and win one race and place competitively in the other is impressive.
“Even if he’s under the weather he lays it on the line, even if that might not be the best thing for his health.“
ALEX WOLF-ROOT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.